Sunset Clauses in Australian Anti-Terror Laws
27 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 2, 2013
A sunset clause is a legislative provision that provides for the expiry of legislation at a fixed point in time. The use of such clauses is controversial. Some argue that sunset clauses are appropriate where legislation makes significant inroads into fundamental human rights, for example, in the anti-terrorism context. Others argue that sunset clauses are the ‘spoonful of sugar’ that enables bad legislation to be passed by the Parliament. This article examines the Australian experience with sunset clauses in the anti-terrorism context. Only two pieces of federal anti-terrorism legislation have incorporated a sunset clause. The question that this article asks is how effective these clauses have been. It will consider their impact upon pre-enactment scrutiny of legislation, as well as the extent to which they have led to rigorous and meaningful post-enactment review.
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